Notre Dame Professor of Law Paolo Carozza, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), recently led an IACHR delegation to Jamaica at the invitation of the Jamaican government to observe the human rights situation there. This is the first visit by the IACHR to the English-speaking Caribbean in 15 years.
During the visit, the Commission focused its attention on issues of citizen security—including the operation of the criminal justice system and the conditions of persons deprived of liberty—and on the human rights of women, children, and people suffering discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.
“While many problems require attention, I would say that Jamaica’s top priority should be the reform of their criminal justice system,” says Carozza. “From that, other good things can flow.” Carozza notes that Jamaica just elected a new prime minister one year ago, and the government has already taken some important steps toward reform.
“Visits such as these by the IACHR help build constructive relationships with governments, advance understanding, and lead to solutions for human rights issues that plague so many nations,” says Carozza.
The IACHR delegation has already issued a preliminary report on their visit, and will complete a final report early in 2009. The group will return to Jamaica next year to present its findings.
The IACHR promotes the observance and defense of human rights in the 35 Western hemisphere nations that are members of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Commission is currently processing more than 800 cases brought by individuals or non-governmental organizations alleging human rights violations.
As president, Carozza presides over the sessions of the Commission and oversee its day to day business in between the formal periods of sessions. The president also represents the Commission before the political organs of the OAS, and can make decisions regarding protective measures on urgent human rights issues while the Commission is not in session.
Carozza joined the Notre Dame Law School faculty in 1996. He is actively involved in the work of the Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) at the Law School, and serves as director of the J.S.D. program in international human rights law, administered through the CCHR. At the University of Notre Dame, he is also a fellow of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies. Carozza earned both his A.B. and J.D. degrees from Harvard, and pursued graduate studies at Cambridge University and at Harvard Law School as a Ford Foundation Fellow in Public International Law. After law school, he served as a judicial clerk for the Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia and worked as an associate at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold & Porter.
The IACHR consists of seven independent experts, elected in their individual capacity by the General Assembly of the OAS. During the sessions that just concluded on March 14, 2008, the IACHR approved reports on numerous individual cases and petitions and held 36 hearings on individual cases and petitions, precautionary measures, and general and specific human rights situations throughout the hemisphere.
The Commission’s decisions enjoy a great deal of credibility especially in Central and South American countries where it has played an important role in opposing dictatorships and abusive regimes in the past.
View the IACHR’s press release and preliminary observations at http://cidh.org/Comunicados/English/2008/59.08eng.htm.
Contact: Prof. Paolo Carozza, Notre Dame Law School, 574-631-4128, Paolo.G.Carozza.firstname.lastname@example.org